In the court hearing yesterday on extending the remand of senior Bezeq Israeli Telecommunication Co. Ltd. (TASE: BEZQ) executives and associates of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel Police sought to extend their remand for eight days. The court acceded partially to the request and extended their remand until this Thursday. One of the prime minister's associates who was arrested is suspected of taking a bribe and obstructing justice.
The number of those arrested totals seven after two more Bezeq managers were detained during the day yesterday.
Several current and former media figures gave evidence to the police yesterday, among them Walla! Communications Channels Ltd. CEO Ilan Yeshua and former content editor of the Walla! News website Yinon Magal. The two were recently reported as saying that Netanyahu had exerted influence on coverage on the Walla! News site through intermediaries. Current Walla! News editor Aviram Elad also gave evidence yesterday.
Walla! Communications Channels is a subsidiary of Bezeq, which is controlled by Shaul Elovitch, a close friend of Netanyahu. One of the suspicions being investigated in this affair (known as Case 4000) is that the Ministry of Communications made decisions benefitting Bezeq in return for favorable coverage for Netanyahu on Walla! News. Netanyahu was also serving as minister of communications at the time, and the director general of the ministry, Shlomo Filber, is his appointee. Filber is currently suspended, and his lawyer confirmed that he was among those detained by the police yesterday.
Netanyahu said yesterday in response to the arrests, "This is another fatuous investigation brought about by media pressure. The media hunt is at its height. After the air went out of Case 1000 and Case 2000, and after became clear that Case 3000 never had any air at all, the media exerted massive pressure to create a new balloon, Case 4000. All the air will go out of that too.
"As the Ministry of Justice made clear in the State Comptroller's report concerning Bezeq, 'The prime minister did not make controversial decisions… there was no decision that benefited Bezeq in any specific way that can be pointed to as a decision that might be controversial and such as might be impaired by a conflict of interests.' This is therefore an artificial balloon, and it too will burst."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on February 19, 2018
© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2018